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Lines In The Suicide Squad That Mean More Than You Realize

"The Suicide Squad" is the first DC film from James Gunn — one conceived, written and filmed while in quasi-exile from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It makes sense, then, that the movie would have a distinct "Guardians of the Galaxy" feel, one overflowing with darkly disturbed heroes, endearingly anthropomorphic supporting stars with difficulty expressing themselves, and repurposed pop songs fueling memorable, visually stunning sequences punctuated by outrageous carnage.

Like any great director, Gunn has certain themes, visual tools, and attitudes he returns to consistently. As the film's trailer boasts, Gunn has a "horribly beautiful mind," and that beauty yields a transcendence of formula that can be so refreshing in today's blockbusters, especially those involving superheroes.

Who's gonna live? Who's gonna die? Who, exactly, is the villain in this film — or to be more specific, since everyone in this film is a villain, which one is the most villainous?

One other thing Gunn is renowned for is his dialogue, and much like the "Guardians" films (to which he will soon return), the dialogue in "Squad" sizzles. There's also a lot of clever comic book references, reality-blurring elements and listen-carefully-or-you'll-miss-it foreshadowing to events that unfold later in the flick. If you've seen the film, and no longer consider spoilers to be a thing of concern, read on for a dissection of Gunn-penned lines in "The Suicide Squad" that — in retrospect — mean more than you might have realized the first time you heard them.

He's in prison for putting Superman in the ICU with a kryptonite bullet

When Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, one of the few actors returning from 2016's underwhelming "Suicide Squad") introduces Robert DuBois, aka Bloodsport (Idris Elba), these are the bona fides that she chooses to highlight on his resume. Arguably the most sympathetic member of "Task Force X," DuBois has a daughter that hates him, and when he gives her advice to bring a lookout next time she's trying to steal a watch that plays TV shows, you know he won't be winning any Father of the Year awards soon. Nevertheless, when Waller threatens to use her influence to burden his little girl with a stiff jail sentence, DuBois steps up and agrees to join the Squad for her sake.

The line about the kryptonite bullet has three purposes. First and perhaps foremost, it establishes that although DuBois doesn't have any superpowers, he possesses a skillset formidable enough to take down anyone, even arguably the most powerful hero in all of comic-dom. Secondly, it tells us this threat is rooted in not only stellar marksmanship, but also his high-tech suit and weaponry that manifests itself, ensuring that he always has the right weapon for any given situation.

The third purpose is to establish the stakes for the film's biggest showdown. Near the end of the film, as the prison/laboratory Jotunheim is collapsing around them and Peacemaker (John Cena) is moments away from executing Ratcatcher II (the excellent Daniela Melchior), DuBois comically surfs from floor to floor, each collapsing beneath him as he tries to stay steady — depositing him right into the confrontation. Realizing the situation, Peacemaker turns his gun on Bloodsport — and if you don't immediately know who's going to win that shootout, you weren't listening very closely to Waller's introduction.

Each member was chosen for his or her own completely unique set of abilities

Another line from Waller, and this time the director of A.R.G.U.S. seems to be tipping off not only her own status as puppet master, but also a game plan that stacks the deck against the majority of Task Force X.

Most literally, the line foreshadows a comical, bloody opening that turns half the "Squad" into Trini Lopez, killing this dirty near-dozen before their mission can even get off the ground. Why would Waller choose Savant (a computer hacker played by Michael Rooker), Blackguard (a double-crossing, dim mercenary played by Pete Davidson), TDK (Nathan Fillion as a goofy, detachable man) and Javelin (Gunter Braun as an Olympian who throws ... well, you know), among others, to storm a beach filled with armed-to-the-teeth soldiers?

None of these "chosen" fighters are bulletproof, none of them have Magneto-like powers that could unarm the soldiers with the wave of a hand, none of them seem to have much going for them at all. They are little more than bait on a hook, selected to make a whole bunch of noise and not much else. It's also very hard to believe that someone as thorough as Waller would select Weasel and not know perfectly well that he couldn't swim.

The purpose, of course, for those selections was merely a distraction — which is interesting, not only because Waller clearly wanted Bloodsport/Peacemaker/Nanaue/Ratcatcher II/Polka-Dot Man to be her "A" team, but also because by placing Colonel Rick Flag (a returning Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (a returning Margot Robbie) on her "B" team, was she hoping for them to also be mowed down in a hail of gunfire upon reaching the shores of Corto Maltese? Waller is surprised to learn that Flag survived the slaughter, and doesn't seem to have plans for Harley Quinn beyond the beach, either.

So in essence, that line is Waller saying: "Everybody whose unique set of abilities we need will be on the 'A' team. Everybody chosen for useless powers that will distract the enemy are on the 'B' team, and they'll make a big ruckus before they die."

Now, if you were to ask Harley Quinn after the events of the movie, she'd tell you that Javelin did serve a purpose — and that purpose was to give her the weapon she would eventually need to stop Starro and save the day. So, as she's walking around the entire movie holding a javelin, wondering what she's supposed to do with it ... is it possible that Waller already knows? Is it possible the puppet master selected the goofy Olympian solely because his presence would bring a valuable weapon that could take down the giant starfish she likely knew was inside Jotunheim?

Remember, Waller says she chose each Squad member for their "unique set of abilities." In the case of Javelin, his only desirable attribute may have been the weapon that could be pried from his cold, dead hand.

I hope so

Three simple words, with so much meaning behind them. This is the response of David Dastmalchian's Polka-Dot Man when the team is being briefed and Bloodsport remarks "We're all gonna die."

This early moment from Abner Krill — whose page-bound predecessor Gunn endearingly describes as "the dumbest DC character of all time" — reminds us of what Gunn does better than any modern filmmaker (perhaps with the exception of "The Lego Movie"/"21 Jump Street" masterminds Phil Lord and Christopher Miller): Take an idea that sounds terrible and delicately transform it into something audiences will love.

By the end of the film, Polka-Dot Man will likely be your favorite "Suicide Squad" member. Also by the end of the film, he will have come a long way from the self-loathing Debbie Downer wishing death upon himself and his Squad-mates. Krill has more issues than Sports Illustrated, to be sure — chief among them a deep hatred for the mother he envisions as every enemy he hopes to obliterate — but as the film goes on, he finds true joy through the mission and the camaraderie therein.

This particularly feels true with Polka-Dot Man's moment on the dance floor just before the team captures the Thinker, when he seems to let his hair down for the first time. Another factor of growth seems to be a genuine friendship with Ratcatcher II, who is also the most bothered by his eventual fate.

When all is said and done, Polka-Dot Man is as into his job as any of us in the audience who hope to live vicariously through these characters. With a rare smile on his face, he looks upon Starro and declares in triumph: "I'm a superhero!" Unfortunately, this is the end of his journey (when the end credits roll and it becomes clear someone survived Jotunheim, how could you root for anybody but him?), but it also shows how far the character traveled over the course of the film — and not just because the mission is in South America.

Starfish is a slang term for butthole. Think there's any connection?

Yeah, it's a funny line. Yeah, it's straight-up James Gunn and yeah, it got a big laugh in the trailer. But it's also a totally fake moment.

As we learn later in the film, Peacemaker was the only member of the Suicide Squad who got the "real" briefing on this mission. To paraphrase Spencer Tracy in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World": he was the joker in the deck that no one counted on.

With that knowledge, how can this exchange between Peacemaker and Waller be seen as anything other than a duplicitous attempt to establish Cena's Christopher Smith as too lunkheaded to have an ulterior motive? He already knows he's really going to Corto Maltese to destroy files linking the U.S. to Jotunheim and kill any of his teammates who get in the way; he also likely knows that "Project Starfish" refers to a giant space starfish that has been experimented on there for decades. Of course, this also means Waller is faking her frustration with his question — she knows quite well that Peacemaker's overzealous note-taking is a façade, one quite likely devised by her.

In reality, James Gunn told Cena on the set to play the character like a bro'd up version of Captain America. By the end of the film, it's clear that Peacemaker isn't this stupid, and also that he's also arguably the most villainous of all these villains.

That isn't an open invitation to cough without covering your mouth

In the DC Extended Universe, there's no such thing as COVID-19 (at least, not in the films so far — but man, would it be fun to watch Superman throw coronavirus into the sun). Lucky them, all they have to fear are brain-sucking starfish, child-murdering weasels, and walking sharks that might mistake them for a "num-num."

As all of us are well too aware, "The Suicide Squad" is among the many, many blockbuster films to be delayed, re-written, half-heartedly released and/or scrapped altogether as a result of the worldwide pandemic that put much of pop culture on hold (for good reason) beginning in 2020. Much of the film was edited at the writer-director's home in the latter half of 2020, as coronavirus forced many people to work remotely. Of course, James Gunn knows all this — and in his own sly way, he wants to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

So, on the verge of the climactic battle in Jotunheim, when the Squad briefs the Thinker (Peter Capaldi) on the rules of engagement, Harley Quinn plays comic relief. She tells him that if he has personalized license plates, he'll die (likely a reference to ex-boyfriend the Joker); she then says "If you cough without covering your mouth, you die!" As Thinker looks on confused, Flag steps in and corrects: "No. Although, that isn't an invitation to cough without covering your mouth."

So if you plan to see "The Suicide Squad" in theaters, take it from Harley Quinn and Colonel Flag and be mindful of germ-spreading. Wash your hands, wear your mask where applicable, and try not to cough while Task Force X are explaining the rules. Because we all know now what happens to the Thinker — and you definitely do not want to end up like that guy.